Municipal council is now confident it’ll be able to ‘raise the roof’ for the second annual installment of Hogs For Hospice.
The latest step in the process of revamping Leamington’s water front became visible for all to see on Tuesday, June 27 as the outdoor amphitheatre’s roof was raised and secured to its four support pillars before a crowd of onlookers that included members of municipal council and administration. The foundation of the stage was built roughly two months earlier and although the structure officially began taking on its basic shape upon installation of its 47,000 pound roof, Leamington director of infrastructure services Rob Sharon explained that there are still a handful of steps remaining on the project’s to-do list.
Although the amphitheatre will not be used for upcoming Canada Day celebrations, mayor John Paterson explained that it will be completed and ready for use upon the arrival of the second annual Hogs For Hospice Friday, Aug. 4 through Sunday, Aug. 6. The new stage’s first major act will be Our Lady Peace — the Hogs For Hospice headlining act for Saturday, Aug. 5.
The $1.2 million project is slated for completion in late July and will be able to seat a capacity of 5,000 spectators once an estimated 75 to 80 feet of concrete is poured across the flat surface at the base of the hill separating Seacliff Beach from Seacliff Park. The flat surface surrounding the stage will stretch from about 15 feet behind the stage to the base of the hill and extend to the fence that partially surrounds the building currently being leased by Burgess’s Restaurant immediately west of the new beach volleyball courts.
“The biggest part of the design is to make it as universal as possible,” said Sharon. “It’ll be a good fit for big acts and local performers through the summer months.”
Once complete, rented, portable seating may be used for the level surface in front of the stage to accommodate major acts while smaller events featuring local performers will permit spectators to set up lawn chairs atop the flat surface between the stage and hill.
“The hill has a perfect grade and it’s a perfect venue with a bowl shape to it,” Sharon explained. “The location for something like this is great.”
The ampitheatre’s stage will be approximately 40 feet wide and sit a standard four feet high from ground level. The structure itself is 35 feet tall. Remaining elements of the project include the installation of a permanent electrical system, an outer membrane for the roof and an exterior ‘skin’ made of composite paneling with a wood grain appearance.
About 12 hours before the amphitheatre’s roof was picked up and lowered onto the stage’s pillars, Leamington council officially signed a lease for the dock situated at the other end of Seacliff Beach. Previously, the dock’s speed bumps were removed and its surface was cleaned up in anticipation of Canada Day fireworks. Afterwards, the dock will again be closed to public access and then re-opened again for the Sip and Savour weekend August 18-20. From there, the dock will again be closed for the addition of safety rails.
“We’re moving along really well,” explained Leamington mayor John Paterson. “Everyone’s really excited about this.”
“I’m really proud of council for what it’s accomplished already,” added Leamington CAO Peter Neufeld, who described the new amphitheatre and its surroundings to a ‘mini Pine Knob’. “Nobody would have expected anything like this after the closure of Heinz, but council made some courageous decisions and here we are.”